Rambling bear causes stir in Lincoln, Weston

Time for the photographer to move along? The Lincoln bear pads through the grass.
Time for the photographer to move along? The Lincoln bear pads through the grass.
Lincoln Police Department

Police are urging residents to keep an eye out for a black bear after one was sighted Sunday in Lincoln and again this morning in Weston.

The black bear was reported in the area of Route 117 and Route 126 Sunday and officials believe the bear was likely looking for food. In a message posted on Twitter, Lincoln police recommended residents take down bird feeders and remove other food sources from their yards.

This morning, Weston police also received reports of a medium-size black bear, over 100 pounds, in the northern part of town, Weston Police Lieutenant John Lyons said. It was likely the same bear, he said.

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Weston’s animal control officer, whom Lyons said works part-time, was out making sure the bear is staying away from main roads after the initial report at 7:30 a.m. The bear was last seen about half an hour later on a railroad bed stretching from Waltham to the town of Berlin. Lyons suspects the bear is on that bed, foraging for food.

Given the time of year, it’s likely that the bear is a young male that has been harassed out of his territory by an older female bear, or sow, and is trying to set up his own territory, said Marion Larson, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife chief of education and information. Bears have been out of hibernation for weeks.

Many cubs learn early on that food can be found in birdfeeders, Larson said.

The wildlife agency is aware of bears known to be reproducing in the nearby Pepperell area, Larson said.

Another bear was spotted more than a month ago by a wildlife camera in the Sudbury Valley Trustees’ Memorial Forest. Larson said it’s likely the bear mistook the camera, which was held up by a metal rod, for a birdfeeder.

“It’s not uncommon for bears to be sighted,” Larson said. “Certainly, they haven’t been seen much in Lincoln and Sudbury, but we know the bear population is expanding eastwards” due to reproduction. The younger bears are searching for land to stake out their own territories, she said, bringing them as far east as Cape Cod.

Though Lincoln police recommended that residents call if they spot the bear, Larson said that’s probably not necessary.

“There’s no need to track the bear. Obviously, if the bear gets into an area where it’s causing a traffic concern, then call,” Larson said.

Despite people’s concerns, Larson said people in the eastern part of the state will have to get used to living alongside bears.

“These bears are going to be here and, like coyotes or skunks or possum or raccoons, they’re here to stay,” Larson said. “It’s not that hard to live with them. The important thing is the way that we behave is going to affect how the bears behave.”

Taking down birdfeeders, waiting to put trash out until the morning of pickup, and ensuring businesses selling food have well-sealed dumpsters will all help keep bears away.

“It doesn’t surprise us as a wildlife agency that a bear is seen in the Lincoln and Sudbury areas,” Larson said. “It’s invevitable.”